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SORRY WE'RE SO FANTASTIC; Pep: I feel for United and Chelsea. In another season they have the form of champions.

Byline: DAVID ANDERSON

PEP GUARDIOLA admits he feels sorry for Jose Mourinho and his other rivals because Manchester City are so good.

City are scorching their way to the title on the back of a record 16-match winning streak and Guardiola has sympathy for the chasing pack, a distant 11 points adrift.

The City boss claims Manchester United and Chelsea's form would normally be good enough for them to be champions.

When asked if he feels sorry for them, Guardiola said: "Of course.

"Did you listen to me in the 18 months I have been here? I have not said a bad word about my opponents.

"United and Chelsea are making enough points to be champions. Chelsea have played 10, won eight, drawn one and lost just one. Those are numbers to be champions.

"United are the same. They are having an amazing season.

"That's why I say it is not over. It is not over because one draw or loss could change things and we still aren't halfway through.

"I have a lot of respect for the other teams."

City began their record run by winning at today's opponents Bournemouth in August through a 97th-minute goal from Raheem Sterling (right) and Guardiola says that moment was key.

He claimed it was pivotal because it proved City could win games with fight as well as flair.

"It was so important because we drew the game before against Everton at home and nobody expected us to win 16 games in a row in that moment," said the Catalan. "It was the same when we won the Southampton game in the last seconds.

"When you win a lot of games, some you win because you play much better and you win comfortably, but others you have to win this way.

"You cannot win all 16 games by a big gap. That's why it was good it happened.

"We had luck in that moment. Hopefully, we can make this a good game."

As might be expected, Guardiola was in relaxed mood at his press conference yesterday, still wearing a yellow ribbon in support of Catalonia's imprisoned former leaders.

He spoke about his pleasure at the turn-out in the elections for a new Catalon parliament, which were won by the independence parties he backs, and seemed unconcerned that support could land him in trouble with the Madrid government.

When he returned to City's amazing run, he admitted he never imagined they would have 52 points approaching the halfway stage of the season - a Premier League record.

He says City will lose eventually and, when they do, he will want to see the right response from his players.

"I'm glad to be where we are, I didn't expect it," added Guardiola.

"I repeat, this is not normal. I expect to lose games and drop more points, but I am glad.

We are going to fight to continue to be unbeaten.

"That is going to happen, we will be beaten.

"But we are going to fight to remain unbeaten.

"There is no doubt about that because of the way we played at Leicester, the way we played against Tottenham and Swansea.

"The players showed me they are still hungry to win another game.

"We will drop points and then after that happens, we will see how we react."

anderson@trinitymirror.com

CITY MILES AHEAD.. LEAGUE LEADERS AFTER 18 GAMES SEASON CLUB W D L PTS 2017-18 MAN CITY 17 1 0 52 2016-17 CHELSEA 15 1 2 46 2015-16 LEICESTER 11 5 2 38 2014-15 CHELSEA 14 3 1 45 2013-14 ARSENAL 12 3 3 39 2012-13 MANUTD 14 1 343 2011-12 MANCITY 14 3 145 2010-11 MANUTD 10 8038

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WE ARE ON A HIGH Guardiola has had plenty to celebrate this season as City stay in the hunt for four cups
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 23, 2017
Words:638
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